Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Quinn to Announce Casino 'Vision' Monday

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Quinn to Announce Casino 'Vision' Monday
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Casino Expansion Would be Boon to Illinois Horse Racing

Almost lost in the Sturm and Drang over the casino portions of the gambling bill are the bailout provisions for the Illinois horse racing industry.

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Mayor Emanuel pushes back as Gov. Pat Quinn raises concerns about a Chicago Casino.
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Gov. Pat Quinn is ready to tip his hand on a proposed state gaming bill that would bring a casino within Chicago limits.

A vague statement from Quinn said he is scheduled to appear Monday morning at the James R. Thompson Center for a "press conference." When Ward Room asked his press reps, a spokesman confirmed the governor will "lay out his vision for the casino bill." 

Quinn has not yet received the bill, but the veto session is next week. His spokesman says the governor has heard from all sides and is ready to detail what he wants.

Illinois race track owners on Friday sure got the feeling that a decision was coming soon.

Officials from Hawthorne, Arlington Park, Quad City Downs, Maywood and Balmoral pleaded with the governor to sign the bill that would allow slot machines at their tracks and generate enough revenue to save their jobs.

“We had a great meeting with the governor," said Tim Carey, president of Hawthorne Race Course. "He’s very interested in the agribusiness in Illinois, so we wanted to explain to him the importance of this bill to horse racing."

On Monday, county and statewide ministers also sent a letter to Quinn in support of the bill, pushing for Ford Heights to get a casino.

"I'm not a supporter of gaming by principle," said Bishop Larry Trotter, "but it just seems to make sense that if the legislature approves the expansion of gaming, then Ford Heights should be the first choice due to the deplorable conditions the town faces."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is for it too, especially in the face of his city's debt.     

But is it enough to sway Quinn? It's anyone's guess.

UPDATE: Gov. Quinn vows to veto the bill if it reaches his desk in its current form.

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